The Native American tribes of Oklahoma are steaming ahead of the greater population towards herd immunity—so much so that they’re opening up COVID-19 vaccination for all Oklahomans.
Having received tens of thousands of doses from the Indian Health Service, the small tribal leadership in the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Osage, Cherokee, and Potawatomi nations have been able to quickly and effectively utilize their medical infrastructure to distribute the vaccine to the highest and secondary priority tribal members.
Job done, the tribes are beginning to offer vaccinations to anyone in the state who needs one, understanding that their members are enmeshed in the Oklahoma communities, and Oklahomans are enmeshed within tribal communities.
The Chickasaw Nation in particular recently opened a new tribal health facility in the city of Ada, with 16 drive-thru lanes for vaccinations. Oklahoma residents can schedule an appointment online through the tribe’s website.
Dr. John Krueger, chief medical officer for the Chickasaw, said 30,000 doses had been administered in the population of 35,000 tribal members.
“We are a part of these communities, and they are a part of us,” Krueger told CNN. “The faster we can get all of us back to essential protection, the better it is for us and the better it is for everyone.”
— Chuck Finocchiaro (@cjfinocchiaro) March 9, 2021
Ute can do it
The Mountain Ute Tribe and Navajo of Colorado followed suit, offering several rounds of Moderna COVID-19 vaccines gratis—with the Mountain Ute hosting the vaccine drive at their casino.
“We need to look toward everyone getting vaccinated in the Four Corners region,” said Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Chairman Manuel Heart, according to local news reports. “Kudos to everyone who came out and worked together to make it happen.”
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Around 700 doses were made available and tribal membership was not required. 100 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires only a single jab, were made available to the homeless community in the Cortez, Colorado area—as the single dose is ideal for transient populations.
The Southcentral Foundation in Alaska is utilizing a patchwork yet effective web of native health centers to also offer vaccines to any Alaskans over the age of 18.
The Indian Health Service has distributed a total of 1.25 million doses, three-fifths of which have already been administered, and the majority of which have gone to New Mexico, California, and Oklahoma.
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